SAP has appointed Claas Kuehnemann as interim MD for Africa following the suspension this week of MD Brett Parker over allegations that the software maker paid kickbacks to a Gupta-owned company to secure a lucrative contract at Transnet.
The German enterprise software vendor placed four executives from its Africa office, including Parker, on “administrative leave” this week over the allegations, which were published on the Daily Maverick and News24 and written by investigative journalism units amaBhungane and Scorpio.
SAP said late on Wednesday night that it would conduct an internal investigation and hire an international law firm to do an external probe into the allegations. It has also now named that law firm.
The report alleged that SAP paid a 10% “sales commission” to a company controlled by the Guptas to secure a contract worth at least R100m from state-owned Transnet. According to the report, the terms suggested a “thinly disguised kickback arrangement”.
The report, which drew on information contained in the so-called “Gupta Leaks” e-mail trove, said that in August 2015 SAP signed a “sales commission agreement” with the Gupta-controlled CAD House, which sells 3D printers.
“The terms suggest a thinly disguised kickback arrangement: if the Gupta company were the ‘effective cause’ of SAP landing a Transnet contract worth R100m or more, it would get 10%,” the report stated. In the year that followed, SAP paid CAD House R99.9m, it added, “suggesting SAP used the Gupta influence network to drive sales of a billion rand to Transnet and other state-owned companies”.
Kuehnemann, who has been with SAP since 1992, will assume all MD responsibilities across the company’s Africa portfolio, totalling 51 countries.
“His track record with SAP dates back more than two decades from when he first started the newly formed SAP subsidiary in South Africa,” the company said in a statement on Friday evening.
“Claas is a veteran SAP executive who has held various senior leadership positions throughout the company across different geographies — he has the full backing and trust of the SAP executive board,” said Adaire Fox-Martin, executive board member for global customer operations, who flew into South Africa on Friday to oversee the investigation.
Peter David, regional chief financial officer for SAP Europe, Middle East and Africa, will support Kuehnemann as acting CFO of SAP Africa, the company said.
It said it has also appointed multinational law firm Baker McKenzie to lead the external investigation “in concert with other global experts such as forensic firm FTI Consulting”. — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media